The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors asked the Department of Engineering last week to stop work on a recycling contract with Waste Management of Northern Virginia Inc. because of questions over whether just one company should handle recycling.

Waste Management was selected from among 13 firms by the Ad Hoc Citizens Committee for Solid Waste Management, which spent seven months preparing a report, issued Aug. 7, on the best way to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill. The committee told the board that recycling was the best choice at this time and recommended that Waste Management handle the job.

Terrance D. Wharton, director of the Department of Engineering, said Waste Management had proposed weekly curbside pickup of recyclable materials in towns, in the urban eastern end of the county and at drop-off centers in rural areas. The fee for curbside pickup for homeowners would be $4 a month or less.

The county must make a decision soon about a recycling program. A detailed waste management plan that includes recycling must be submitted to the state by July 1. In addition, the county is under a state mandate to recycle at least 25 percent of its waste by 1995. Failure to do so will result in fines.

David Grayson, who operates Grayson's Refuse Service of Leesburg and Middleburg, told the board this month that he was opposed to a single recycling contract, which he said would create a monopoly on recycling in the county. He said he strongly favors mandatory recycling (he runs more than a dozen recycling programs around the county), but said it should be done by local trash haulers as part of their regular service to customers. Grayson's business serves about 50 percent of the county's residential and business population.

The county "can achieve its {recycling} goals by mandating that the haulers who operate within the boundaries of Loudoun County make recycling services available as a part of their {trash} service," Grayson said. "Please say no to the current proposal" for a single contract.

But Department of Engineering staff members want to go ahead, saying Grayson is only disrupting a recycling plan that was well underway. They say Waste Management Inc. was chosen fairly.

"I believe that it would be unwise to . . . start anew unless Mr. Grayson can show that he was denied the right to submit a proposal or submitted a proposal which was rejected without cause," Jim Sayer, a county engineer, said in a memo to Deputy County Executive Jim Keene.

Grayson did not submit a proposal to the citizens committee, although he spoke before the committee about recycling on Jan. 18.

"It was a free and open opportunity" for any company to submit proposals, said committee Chairman Agnes Harrison. "If {Grayson} didn't, I should assume it was his choice."

Harrison said she greatly admires Grayson for the work he has done in recycling: "I think he's a real hero."

Supervisor Betsey Brown (D-Catoctin) said last week that Grayson's idea was worth consideration.

"Why not hear from the local guys?" Brown said.

But some committee members expressed dismay about going back to the drawing board, a process Wharton said would delay a recycling program by 90 to 100 days.

"We've got the potential for a great program here," said Phil Hostetter, of Sterling, a member of the citizens committee. "I'd hate to see it get indefinitely stalled."