Loudoun County and Middleburg town officials have approved an experimental recycling program for household trash in Middleburg.

By March 1, Middleburg households will be provided with two different colored collection baskets. Residents will be asked to collect glass containers in one, aluminum cans in the other.

One of the baskets will be picked up each week on regular trash collection day. The baskets are to be placed on the curb with the regular trash cans.

In addition, newspapers will be picked up on the same day on a weekly basis. Residents will be asked to either bundle or bag the papers before they put them outside. Compliance is voluntary.

The aim of the experimental program, called the Source Separation/Curbside Collection Recycling Program, is to make residents aware of what they are throwing out in their household garbage. The program was initiated by a volunteer organization called Keep Loudoun Beautiful.

Benjamin Lawrence, president of the 450-member organization, attended a state-sponsored waste management workshop last summer in Williamsburg. "When I came back, I was convinced we had to do something," he said.

Loudoun County's only landfill will reach its capacity in seven years, according to Irv Slike, county environmental engineer. The landfill receives an average of 200 tons of garbage daily. Studies have shown that countywide mandatory recycling would cut the daily deposit at the landfill by 20 to 40 percent. Slike said a new landfill might take up to 10 years to open.

The recycling program will run six months, when the Keep Loudoun Beautiful board, with assistance from the Loudoun County Department of Engineering and Technical Services, will examine the results and present its findings to the Loudoun Board of Supervisors. The supervisors, who unanimously approved the pilot program last year, are considering several approaches to the county's waste problem, including recycling, according to Chuck Bos, Leesburg District supervisor.

Keep Loudoun Beautiful estimates that 450 baskets will be needed to supply all households in Middleburg, which has a population of about 630.

On Jan. 13, the group sponsored a workshop at Mosby's Tavern to acquaint the town with the program and to examine some of the larger issues of waste management. Officials and residents from Fairfax, Clarke and Fauquier counties as well as manufacturers of glass and paper products were on hand for the workshop, which drew about 75 people.

"We're very proud to have been chosen for the pilot," said Middleburg Mayor Loyal McMillin, one of 12 speakers at the workshop. "The town council is unanimous in its acceptance of the challenge to do something about our trash problem."

McMillin estimated that 75 percent of the town would participate in the pilot program, although he said a few problems still need to be worked out.

"I'm worried that some of the smaller houses in Middleburg and the ones that don't have basements will have problems storing the collection baskets," McMillin said, but he said he is optimistic about the program.

Source Separation "is the only waste management option that gets the attention of the public," Slike said. "People become conscious of what they are throwing away. Studies have shown that a person's buying habits are affected once they begin to realize how much and what kind of trash their household generates."

The recyclables will be hauled and stored at the county landfill by Grayson Refuse Co., which holds a city contract to remove trash.

Middleburg is the first incorporated town in Virginia to begin a recycling program.