(KEY OFF)(KEYWORD)S CONSUMERS in Oregon, Vermont, Michigan and Maine can and do readily attest, their state-wide laws curbing traffic throwaway bottles and cans have saved them money, reduced litter and conserved energy. Better yet, say supporters of these laws, would be national legislation that would establish uniform controls making marketing and use of returnables all the more convenient and economical. Such legislation is now before Congress, and we're pleased to note that it has just received some important support: The Cabinet-level Resource Conservation Committee, which has been considering the deposit proposal, has recommended provisions that it thinks should be part of any federal legislation on deposits.

Barbara Blum, deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and head of the special committee, said the goup "concluded that the imposition of mandatory deposits is an effective means for recovering little associated with beverage containers." Among the provisions recommended are that all beer and carbonated soft drinks in sealed containers be covered by any legislation; the EPA administrator would be authorized to include others. Also, deposits (of at least a nickel) would begin at he distributor wholesaler stage of distribution. The system would be phased in over a two-yeat period.

Under a national deposit system, the committee said, the results could include as much as a 70 per cent drop in bottle and can litter, with municipal solid waste reduced by some 6 million tons a year. National collection and disposal costs could be reduced by about $200 million a year. Also, estimated energy savings could range from 20 to 40 per cent of the annual energy needs for the packaging of bottles and cans.

As for the impact on the job market, the findings are that at the "very worst," over a five-year transition, approximately 10,000 glass-plant jobs and 22,000 metal-can production jobs would be lost. But increases in job opportunities in filling, distributing and retailing could actually produce a net increase of 48,000 to 68,000 jobs.

Now, there have been lots of different statistics tossed around by proponents and opponents of controls on throwaways, so these surely aren't the last we'll see. Still, the vast majority of studies continues to point up the logic of returnable beverage containers in combating expensive waste.

More and more members of the industry, too, are recognizing the growing popular support for legislation. Alcoa, for example, which has been active in opposing deposits, has now amended its position to focus its battle against aluminum cans, noting that "there is no question that littering of beverage containers does decline after deposits are imposed." The Adolph Coors Co., brewers, also has stated that a uniform national law would be far preferable to a proliferation of state laws.

We agree. But this national conservation measure needs the strong support of President Carter if the legislation is to be enacted by this Congress. In the House, Rep. James M. Jeffords (R-Vt.), chairman of the House Environmental Study Conference, is chief sponsor; in the Senate, Mark O. Hatfield and Bob Packwood, Oregan's Republican senators, also have been working for passage of a bill. All three sponsors have recognized the remarkably strong degree of constituent support for the laws already in effect in their states. Now it is up to the President and Congress to respond by pushing through this sensible national measure.