Waste not, want not, the old saying goes, so the frugal folks at the General Services Administration figure there must be some way to make use of nearly 5 billion gasoline rationing coupons that were printed in response to the 1973 Arab oil embargo.

The coupons were never used, in part because they are so susceptible to misuse that they've been kept in underground Army bunkers under tight security for nearly a decade.

The coupons, printed by the Federal Energy Administration in 1974, lack serial numbers and are considered easy to forge. They also bear a likeness of George Washington so similar to the one on the $1 bill that it can fool automatic bill-changers.

But the coupons--all 2,000 tons of them--are taking up storage space at the Pueblo, Colo., Army Depot, at a cost of $17,000 a year. So in June, 1982, shortly after legal authority to use the coupons expired, then-Energy Secretary James B. Edwards gave the green light to destroy them.

The GSA, however, has not issued a contract to do the deed. "We first want to see if there is any recycling value," said spokesman Steve Guiheen. As in paper pulp, perhaps.

One imagines the government forms that bear the legend: "This paper work is printed on 100 percent recycled paper work."