ONE OF the best-bankrolled insults to the intelligence of D.C. shoppers is the attempt of the throwaway bottle and can industry to fill the mails and airwaves with scare talk and distortions about the litter-reduction proposal coming up for a vote in November. Even the name of the group -- the Clean Capital City Committee -- is absurd, unless it's called that because its members are cleaning up every time they can sell a throwaway container instead of one that can be used again. If you like throwaway glass and metal all over the place, you'll love the "Say NO to 28" sloganeers -- led by bottlers, canners and big-chain supermarket owners who prefer to push the drink-and-toss containers instead of the reusables.

The latest bunk from the "no" committee contains some quotations from people named Jones, Hill and Thompson from Albany, New York City and Detroit respectively, whose lives appear to have been deeply affected by deposits on bottles. The committee adds to their statements, claiming that in New York, where most people use public transportation, shoppers "have had to either struggle to return the empties, or forfeit their deposit money." Apparently they don't struggle at all getting the full bottles home, just the empties back; and never mind that in New York City, there are more stores within easy walking distance that handle the empties.

"Mary Hill" of New York says in the flyer that she "really enjoyed my soft drinks, but now they just cost too much." The idea here is to pretend that deposit laws cause prices to go up. Prices do go up from time to time, but the price of most drinks -- where both returnables and throwaways are sold -- is less in the returnables. Smart shoppers know this, and smart taxpayers know that any measure that just might reduce the volume of litter even by a fraction should reduce the cost of collecting trash across the city.

The coalition working to "Say Yes" to Initiative 28 doesn't have large-industry financing for its campaign -- and probably won't be paying people to work for its side. But District residents who can see through the big billboards, mailings, radio claims and supermarket posters should find common sense on the side of those who support the proposal