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Zero-emission e-commerce and freight delivery and return choices by retailers, consumers and local authorities
Horizon Europe - Cluster 5 - Destination 6: Safe, Resilient Transport and Smart Mobility services for passengers and goods
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
To support changing retailers and customers’ behaviours towards zero-emission freight delivery and return choices, the research actions will have to develop co-created actions able to increase transparency and consumers’ awareness of greenhouse gas emissions and other impacts (considering also socio-economic ones) of e-commerce, deliveries and returns.
Actions will have also to propose zero-emission delivery solutions and develop supporting incentive schemes to encourage customers to make sustainable choices, still in accordance with their preferences and in combination with competitive and sustainable retail value propositions. The research actions will have to take into account and build on existing methods and standards to compare the emission in the transport value chain of B2C e-commerce, and to be developed in line with the Commission’s initiative on EU framework for harmonised measurement of transport and logistics emissions – ‘CountEmissions EU’.
Proposals will have to address all of the following points:
- Taking stock of existing studies, assess which conditions would make zero-emission delivery and return options attractive to consumers and which motivations and options would incentivise consumers to change their behaviour towards greener choices. Integrate an intersectional analysis of consumers’ gender, age, and socioeconomic status to account better for the customers’ variety of expectations and motivations and develop solutions which cater for all social groups.
- Co-designing with and engaging consumers and retailers, and taking into account the assessed motivations and incentives, develop a set of zero-emission delivery and return options, which are at least comparable with existing delivery offering and account for the different consumer groups’ needs and motivations to change their behaviour. Identify which options would be more suitable to the customers’ group or groups more motivated to change their behaviours and act as frontrunners, thus leading to a more rapid adoption.
- Actively involve consumers (e.g. through consumer organisations) and retailers in the development of guidelines and best practices for retailers to raise awareness and communicate transparently and in an understandable way on the greenhouse gas emission footprint of deliveries and returns’ modes and options.
- Define scalable and generic processes and requirements for the retailers to adopt the zero-emission logistics processes in practice.
- Develop and analyse different scenarios that implement measures towards both more transparent communication and implementation of cleaner and zero-emission e-commerce last mile deliveries to assess reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
- Test with selected retailers and representative customers, and in collaboration with relevant local authorities, the proposed guidelines to visualise the advanced information on emissions and the zero-emission delivery and return options towards consumers. Assess their attractiveness to consumers, the potential impact on consumers’ behaviours (including e.g. same-day delivery, returns and physical store pick up options) and their possible buy-in into more sustainable offering. In an iterative process develop and implement recommendations for improvement.
- Demonstrate solutions and propose recommendations to support and incentivise the uptake of greener choices by consumers and retailers.
- Define indicators to measure and evaluate the successful communication and the implementation by the retailers as well as the adoption by the consumers of zero-emission delivery and return options.
- Develop recommendations and a toolset with and for local authorities to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission delivery and return options and choices.
- Strengthen the coordination and collaboration between e-commerce companies, industrial logistics stakeholders and cities, companies, research and civil society, in Europe and internationally, to give input to the project as well as disseminate and exploit results.
- Cooperation with the network of cities CIVITAS should be planned as appropriate.
Projects are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:
- Better understanding of customers’ willingness and motivations to choose more sustainable delivery and return options, possibly including also social sustainability (e.g. adequate working conditions for drivers/delivery personnel).
- Retailers and logistics operators support relevant processes by providing information on the implications of delivery solutions.
- Consumers are aware and committed in using delivery and return strategies to reduce emissions and traffic congestion.
- Information on environmental footprint of deliveries and returns are provided transparently and in an understandable way by the retailers (in collaboration with logistics operators and transport system providers) to consumers.
- A wider range of zero-emission delivery and return options and related incentive schemes (at least comparable to the existing ones e.g. in terms of price and convenience) are co-designed with customers and proposed by retailers, incentivised by customers’ growing demand for greener choices and cities’ regulations.
- At least 50% of the delivery and return options/processes adopted by the retailers and logistics operators involved in the action and available to their customers are zero-emissions.
- Better understanding of local authorities’ ability to influence greener choices of delivery and return options by consumers.
- Recommendations proposed to local authorities and the EU on the impact of relevant policy levers and possible regulations to influence greener choices of delivery and return options.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
EU Body, Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 5 by the end of the project.
For the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), the following definitions apply:
- TRL 1 — Basic principles observed
- TRL 2 — Technology concept formulated
- TRL 3 — Experimental proof of concept
- TRL 4 — Technology validated in a lab
- TRL 5 — Technology validated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 6 — Technology demonstrated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 7 — System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
- TRL 8 — System complete and qualified
- TRL 9 — Actual system proven in an operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies, or in space)
If projects use satellite-based earth observation, positioning, navigation and/or related timing data and services, beneficiaries are expected to clearly describe if and how the use of Copernicus and/or Galileo/EGNOS are incorporated in the proposed solutions. In addition, if the activities proposed involve the use and/or development of AI-based systems and/or techniques, the technical and social robustness of the proposed systems has to be described in the proposal.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.