The development and availability of an innovative waterless dyeing system is set to accelerate with the decision by Ikea GreenTech to join Nike as an investor in the company behind the new technology.

Sporting goods giant Nike Inc invested in Dutch company DyeCoo Textile Systems in February last year, in a bid to boost the technology's uptake throughout the apparel industry.

DyeCoo has developed what are thought to be the first commercially available waterless textile dyeing machines that use recycled carbon dioxide instead of water in the dyeing process.

As well as using no water, the system is said to reduce energy use, requires no auxiliary chemicals or drying - and is claimed to be twice as fast as conventional processes.

Nike says the investment from Ikea GreenTech, a venture capital company that is part of home furnishings giant Ikea Group, will help bring the technology to scale.

The textile industry is one of the largest consumers of water, and most of the world's textile suppliers are located in Asia.

The scale of the industry's activity in the region can put pressure on the availability of clean water and contribute to environmental pollution in the discharges from manufacturing processes.

By removing the need to use water in the dyeing process and eliminating the risk of effluent discharge, a known environmental hazard, the DyeCoo system could bring significant benefits to the region.

"Ikea's decision to invest in this technology signals an exciting step in cross-industry collaboration," notes Hannah Jones, Nike VP of sustainable business and innovation.

"A key objective for Nike when investing in DyeCoo was to scale the technology to benefit consumers, business and the environment. We're delighted IKEA shares a similar objective to accelerate development of more sustainable materials and manufacturing processes."

The first range of machines developed and manufactured by DyeCoo are for waterless dyeing of polyester fabric.

As well as helping to scale the processes for dyeing polyester, the partnership with Ikea will speed up the development of processes and machines for dyeing cotton.

Nike was one of several firms that jumped on board the so-called Detox challenge set out two year's ago by environmental pressure group Greenpeace to eliminate the discharge of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains by 2020.

One of the issues they highlighted in a joint 'roadmap' of the steps they intend to take to achieve the goal was the vast volume of water used in dyeing/finishing and other processes - and the fact that wastewater treatment varies from facility to facility.

Indeed, conventional textile dyeing requires substantial amounts of water. On average, an estimated 100-150 litres of water is needed to process one kg of textile materials today - and industry analysts estimate that more than 39m tonnes of polyester will be dyed annually by 2015.