Loudoun County staff members and a citizens committee are recommending that the Board of Supervisors begin a mandatory, countywide recycling program as soon as possible. The program would cover households and businesses.

In a report to the board last week, the Ad Hoc Committee on Solid Waste Management said the county will not reach its state-mandated goal of 25 percent recycling by 1995 unless citizens are required by law to recycle certain materials. There are a number of voluntary recycling programs in place across the county now, but committee chairman Agnes Harrison said "it just isn't enough.

"Although many people are doing it {recycling}, the collective volume would not meet the {state} requirement," Harrison said.

The 10-member committee also recommended that the county construct a processing plant for recyclables at the county landfill. The plant would cost about $850,000, according to Waste Management of Northern Virginia Inc., a Newington firm the committee recommended to be the county's recycling contractor. The committee selected Waste Management from 13 area firms that submitted proposals to handle recycling in Loudoun.

Terrance Wharton, director of the county's Department of Engineering, said he is negotiating a contract with Waste Management in which the company would conduct a weekly curbside pickup of recyclables in towns and in the urban eastern end of the county and would pick up materials from drop-off centers in rural areas. The cost to homeowners served by curbside pickup would be less than $3 per month.

"We think {mandatory recycling} is the way to go," Wharton said.

Other area jurisdictions such as Fairfax County and the District of Columbia have already begun mandatory recycling.

Wharton will submit the contract to the Board of Supervisors for approval next month. The board directed him to prepare the contract at its Aug. 7 meeting, the last one until September.

The citizens committee report said that without mandatory recycling, Loudoun would fall at least 10 percent short of its state goal. But if all recommendations are implemented, the report said, the county would be recycling about 28 percent of its waste by 1995, 3 percent more than required.

To do that, the report said, the county would have to require recycling of yard waste such as grass, clippings and leaves, as well as material such as glass, newspapers and cans from households and businesses. The committee recommended disposing of yard waste by composting.

The committee also strongly supported the county's intention to negotiate with Prince William County to use an incinerator Prince William plans to build near Gainesville, just south of the Loudoun County line. The committee recommended that Loudoun establish a transfer station at its landfill for waste going to Prince William. Haulers could bring trash to the transfer station, where large trucks owned by the county or a single contractor would collect it and take it to the incinerator, the committee suggested.

The committee report did not address what should happen to the many community and town-sponsored voluntary recycling programs already in place in the county. But it is likely that most communities would happily allow the county to deal with recycling.

"We strongly support" a mandatory countywide recycling program, said Gail Crum, a member of the Sterling Foundation Recycling Committee, which operates two recycling centers in Sterling. "We hope the board will support it."

The citizens committee met weekly for eight months, interviewed recycling and solid waste disposal experts and toured two incinerators before presenting its report to the board.

Harrison said the committee "did not consider too much the financial situation in the county" when making its recommendations. Like most area jurisdictions, Loudoun is facing one of the tightest budget years in recent history and the committee's recommendations could cost millions of dollars. But the fast-growing county will have to spend the money eventually, either on programs such as recycling and incineration, or on another landfill. It will also have to pay state fines if it fails to recycle 25 percent of its waste by 1995.