European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

BuyZET – Procurement of innovative solutions for zero emission urban delivery of goods and services

Article Category

Article available in the following languages:

Changing how we transport goods and services for reduced urban emissions

Cities rely on transportation; not counting public transport there are maintenance and repair services, construction works, waste collection and goods deliveries – all damaging the environment. BuyZET tackles the problem at the procurement stage.

Transport and Mobility icon Transport and Mobility

Almost all city administered contracts involve transport. Whether it be electricians travelling to public facilities to carry out repairs or school meal deliveries. The City of Copenhagen estimates that procurement of goods and services results in an annual 8.3 million kilometres travelled in the urban area (excluding public transport services). So finding zero emission delivery options would have a significantly positive environmental impact. Currently, the greatest barriers to achieving this are cost and a lack of awareness about the availability of suitable vehicles. However, with the cost-effectiveness of electric vehicles rapidly increasing, getting public sector contracts would encourage investment in zero emission vehicles. The EU-supported BuyZET project developed a zero emission delivery model in Copenhagen, Oslo and Rotterdam, applicable to the majority of procurement processes. The models are outlined within the BuyZET Handbook and in detailed Procurement Plans published by each of the cities.

Quantifying and reducing the procurement footprint

To start, each city calculated their procurement transportation footprint (quantifying the number of vehicle trips and distances travelled). A range of approaches were used for this (all documented in the footprint reports of each city), but were primarily based on analysing invoices and then extrapolating the transportation requirements. “There was a lack of available data on procurement transportation, which would be relatively easy to collect and, aside from promoting zero emission delivery, could offer a clearer picture of other impacts, like traffic flow,” says project coordinator Simon Clement. Based on the results, each city focused on two procurement areas, consulting with suppliers to identify potential zero emission options before identifying upcoming tenders to apply their procurement plans. In all cities, maintenance and repair services for public facilities (electricians, plumbers, cleaners, etc.) had a significant emissions footprint. Oslo highlighted commercial waste collection, while for Rotterdam, construction materials for public infrastructure works had the highest footprint. In Copenhagen, smaller goods delivery had a significant combined impact. BuyZET’s approach has already been applied in Rotterdam and Oslo to a series of procurement contracts (for example, locksmith services and mobile phones delivery in Oslo, and maintenance and repair contracts in Rotterdam). As well as increasing zero emission delivery, the plans have proven practical to implement without being costlier than before. Both cities now plan to roll the model out across the city’s procurement activities. Copenhagen is awaiting a decision at the political level, hopefully to be made later this year. “It’s vital to discuss your objectives with suppliers, current and potential. Market engagement can help identify what options are realistic and how you can support suppliers towards zero emission delivery options – something a large number are already interested in pursuing,” says Clement.

Widening the impact

The core group of cities were observed by additional interested cities, these were: Southampton, Bielefeld, Jerusalem, Bologna, Manchester and Munich, as well as the Brussels Region. The methodologies developed are all available on the BuyZET website and have been communicated widely through the networks of ICLEI and Polis to European public authorities. To take the work further, the team intend to explore workable models for public procurement consolidation centres, whereby city authorities and the private sector can collaborate on tenders; with a proposal for research involving nine European cities already submitted for EU funding.


BuyZET, procurement, goods, services, emissions, GHG, CO2, transportation, Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo

Discover other articles in the same domain of application