The Clean Capital City Committee may be spending itself to defeat on Initiative 28, the so-called bottle initiative that will be on next Tuesday's D.C. ballot.

It isn't that the bill is perfect or that the opponents don't have some valid points. The problem is the growing sense that their campaign is based on deception.

The deception begins with the name of the anti-intiative lobby. "Clean Capital City Committee" conjures up the notion of citizens concerned about litter in the streets of Washington. But the money to finance their fight -- more than a million dollars, according to campaign finance reports -- has been put up by such non-Washingtonians as Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola and Anheuser Busch, whose concerns, however legitimate, have little to do with local sanitation. Their radio and TV ads feature what appear to be interested citizens expressing their doubts about the proposal. But civic concern isn't their only motivation. One of the more impressive ads, for instance, features a Howard University professor, but offers no hint that he has been on the industry payroll as a consultant since March.

Others featured in the ads are paid for their testimonials -- "a pittance" for permission to use the material, as a consultant to the industry describes it. But one young woman, a copy aide at The Post, said she did her ad describing the initiative as "the right problem but the wrong solution" only because she needed the $40 she was offered. She said she was told by a friend of the ad's producer that "they needed a white female and were paying $40, and I really needed the money." But did her testimony reflect her views? "I really don't agree with {their} position," she told a reporter. "I really want the bottle bill to pass. . . . I feel like I sold out."

It's hard to know just how much selling out is involved. Presumably some of those whose testimony we have heard are sincere. But the industry's ham-handed throwing around of cash makes you wonder whether their sincerity may be as deceptive as much of the rest of the campaign.

It's fair enough to argue, as many have, that the bill requiring refundable deposits on beer and soft-drink bottles won't do as much as its proponents claim to clean up the city. It is not unfair to suggest that returnable bottles could cause storage problems for smaller outlets. It may even be true, as one ad claims, that the bottle bill, by reducing the profits of waste recycling companies, may force some of the recyclers out of business, making it uneconomic for them to continue collecting waste paper and other refuse and, as a result, increasing the amount of litter on the streets.

But these logical arguments are undermined by the general air of deception. The industry's contention that storing the returnable bottles will turn our homes into "roach motels," or drive up the cost of beverages, or work needless hardships on the city's poor as they lug their bags of empties back to the store ignore the fact that similar legislation has worked quite well in other cities. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) is expected to testify today that Michigan's bottle bill, in effect since 1978, has been a sanitary and popular success. Despite some initial opposition, largely from the beverage industry, the Michigan law is credited with saving the state "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in cleanup costs each year. A poll commissioned earlier this year by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs says 90 percent of the residents favor the law.

One of the strangest attacks on the D.C. proposal came from the Rev. Edward A. Hailes, president of the D.C. chapter of the NAACP, who recently joined a group of 130 local ministers in denouncing Initiative 28. "White people always think black people can be bought for a nickel," he said, attacking proponents who contend that local residents can earn money collecting returnable bottles. "We are not interested in those kinds of jobs. We are looking for jobs with upward mobility."

Fine, and Hailes, long associated with the Washington Opportunities Industrialization Center, has done more than his share to produce those needed jobs. But Initiative 28 is not a jobs bill; it is a sanitation bill, and the legitimate question, it seems to me, is whether it will help to make the city's streets cleaner. The evidence from other jurisdictions that have tried it suggests that it will. And if the people who have been earning money collecting aluminum cans can increase their earnings by collecting bottles as well, is that such a bad thing?