AFTER SEVEN YEARS of indecision and countless tons of wasted glass, metal and energy, members of the Montgomery County Council are still tiptoeing around one of the most effective legislative moves they could make to reduce litter and conserve natural resources. Instead of just letting a law requiring deposits on beverage containers go into effect as scheduled next year, some members seem to be falling for a list of ineffective alternatives backed by officials of the bottling and brewing industries, who want the effective date of the law pushed into 1981 or, if possible, oblivion.

The favorite proposal of the bottlers and brewers is the Beverage Industry Recycling Program, better known in the county by its unfortunate acronym, BIRP. This is a version of the old redemption-center game, where consumers are supposed to save their cans and bottles for a special trip to a redemption center, which may or may not be nearby. Industry representatives contend this is a good substitute for a deposit system, under which consumers (or enterprising young collectors) could simply return bottles and cans to the nearest store and either get the deposits or apply the amount to their next purchase.

At a hearing the other evening, one group of high school students pointed up the ineffectiveness of the industry recycling program by presenting the council with plastic bags containing 400 bottles. Under the industry program, they noted, this load would yield $1 to the collectors -- hardly a worthwhile endeavor. The county's scheduled deposit law not only makes far more sense, but would also bring Montgomery into a regional effort to establish a uniform system that residents throughout the area could enjoy. With all the concern being voiced about inflation, energy conservation, the waste of natural resources and the desecration of the countryside, the case for moving ahead on time in Montgomery is compelling.