A new advertisement on the Public Contracts Scotland website calls on “external service providers” to calculate the “scale and cost of litter and fly-tipping” for public bodies and private landowners.
The contract, worth £60,000, is part of the Scottish Government’s plan to create a new national litter and fly-tipping strategy.
The successful bidder will be tasked with updating official figures last collated for a Zero Waste Scotland report almost a decade ago.
The 2013 study, called “Scotland’s Litter Problem”, found clearing up illegally dumped waste was costing taxpayers £53 million a year.
Around 15,000 tonnes of litter was being dropped in Scotland each year, according to the report – 80 per cent of which was potentially recyclable.
It also estimated that annually, 26,000 tonnes of illegally fly-tipped waste was being dealt with by local authorities, though that figure “excludes the vast majority of cases occurring on private land”.
But the latest effort to quantify the scale of the problem has been dismissed by critics as a “token gesture” ahead of November’s COP26 summit in Glasgow.
Repeated concerns have been raised over the state of city ahead of the event, which will see world leaders from nearly 200 countries, including United States president Joe Biden, Pope Francis and The Queen, descend on Glasgow for 12 days of negotiations.
In August, local Conservative councillor Euan Blockley described the city as a “midden” after images of litter strewn streets and overflowing bins were published online.
Earlier this month Glasgow Council’s leader Susan Aitken admitted the authority’s recycling record was “woeful”, but insisted the city only needed a “spruce up as we emerge from Covid”.
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser criticised the timing of the tender process, telling The Scotsman: “Quantifying the scale and cost of fly-tipping is long overdue and has to be welcomed.
“However, this exercise seems nothing more than a token gesture being carried out before COP26. Fly-tipping is affecting communities right across Scotland.
The Mid Scotland and Fife regional MSP added: “The legislation dealing with it offers an insufficient deterrent, which is one of the reasons why I am putting a Members’ Bill together on the issue.
“The Bill will also look at matters such as confirming strict liability for fly-tipping and looking at how data on fly-tipping can be collated by one organisation.”
It is not yet clear whether the new fly-tipping study will begin in time to examine Alexandra Park, Glasgow, where a massive clean-up operation was mounted this week.
Organised crime groups are suspected of quietly dumping a mountain of refuse there under a section of the M8 motorway, including fridges, washing machines, baths, toilets, rotting bin bags and hazardous building waste.
A spokesman for the local authority said: “This site is not maintained by the council, but we fully welcome the work by the site manager to remove the illegally dumped waste and ensure the site is subsequently secured.
“Those responsible for fly-tipping at this site have shown a complete disregard for the environment and for the safety of any individual living or working in the vicinity of this environmental crime.”
The Scottish Government was not available for comment on Friday.