In Prince George's, where county collection of recyclable materials is limited to a fourth of all single-family households, a multimedia campaign has been launched to raise awareness of recycling and encourage residents, schools and businesses to recycle on their own.

With the slogan "Take advantage of our good nature," the $60,000 campaign will feature staff members in the Office of Recycling who, campaign organizers want the public to know, are eager to assist residents trying to establish recycling programs.

The campaign will be waged through June using advertisements on radio, Metro buses and subways and in newspapers, according to Jonathan Phillips, special programs manager for the county Office of Recycling. According to Barbara Yuhas, chief of the recycling office, the campaign organizers hope to "raise the general awareness of recycling to the general public."

Curbside collection is the major focus of the residential recycling effort in Prince George's. In March, officials are expected to unveil plans for expanding curbside collections to every home in the county in the next two years.

Montgomery County, which already has a countywide curbside collection program for newspapers, plans to expand curbside programs for other recyclables, including glass bottles, steel and aluminum cans, and some types of plastic bottles by next year. A large recycling center is expected to be completed in Rockville late this summer, facilitating a rapid increase in the number of households with curbside collection programs, according to Esther Bowring, Montgomery's recycling coordinator.

Since 1988, the Prince George's program has involved more than 34,000 of the county's 160,000 single-family households. Cheverly, Bladensburg, College Park, University Park, Hyattsville and Mount Rainier are among the 22 communities with county-contracted curbside programs. Jurisdictions participating in the pilot programs were chosen because they already had the equipment to pick up the trash, said Phillips. Takoma Park, Laurel and Bowie also run independent curbside collection programs.

The Prince George's program works like this:

Recyclable wastes, including aluminum cans, glass and certain types of plastics, are separated from the rest of the trash in the household, and are placed in a container provided by the county (newspapers are bundled separately). The recyclables are picked up and delivered to the Eagle Management Multi-Material Recycling Facility in Capitol Heights, where they are sorted and cleansed. They are then shipped to different locations around the nation for recycling. By and large, Phillips said, the materials are recycled into the same kind of products from which they originated.

The Prince George's curbside program has grown fivefold in the past two years, from 7,000 households in 1989. About 69 percent of the homes in the communities involved in the program are actively participating, leaving their recyclables to be picked up on a regular basis, said residential recycling program manager Jesse E. Buggs Jr.

Two thousand homes, along three trash collection routes in Rockville, are participating in a pilot recycling program in Montgomery, Bowring said. These homes are separating products made of glass and plastic, aluminum, steel and bi-metal cans, and newspapers.

Yuhas said that the Prince George's ad campaign, which also highlights other components of the county's recycling program, including educational programs in local public schools and recycling efforts in county businesses and apartment buildings, is being financed by the $10 dumping fees at the Brown Station Road landfill.

All of the ads highlight the recycling staff, often listing their particular field of expertise and a phone number where they can be reached. Yuhas likes the personal nature of the ads: "We're not a faceless bureaucracy. Our staff has expertise and training to assist residents and businesses . . . and we're here to help."