Nike announced today it has entered a strategic partnership with DyeCoo Textile Systems B.V., a Netherlands-based company that has developed and built the first commercially available waterless textile dyeing machines.

Details of the partnership -- such as the amount of textiles that Nike will convert from water-dyeing to the waterless technology as well as the pace of that conversion -- have yet to be determined.

But the potential impact of the world's largest sporting goods company adopting waterless dyeing process is huge.

Last year, Nike was among several apparel companies that entered an agreement with Greenpeace to end textile-dyeing practices that have been blamed for endangering water supplies worldwide, especially in China and the rest of Asia.

Conventional textile dyeing requires substantial amounts of water. On average, an estimated 100-150 liters of water is needed to process one kg of textile materials.

Industry analysts estimate that more than 39 million tons of polyester will be dyed annually by 2015. At present, DyeCoo's technology is limited to dying polyester, though research is underway to add cotton and other natural and synthetic products to the waterless mix, Eric Sprunk, Nike's vice president of merchandising and product., said in an interview with The Oregonian.

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