Sustainable Engineering

InoCottonGROW - Innovative impulses to reduce the water footprint of the global cotton textile industry towards UN sustainability goals

Project description

Global water resources are regionally endangered by the production of water-intensive cotton textiles in arid and semi-arid regions. The high need for irrigation in cotton cultivation and the discharge of untreated wastewater from textile production mean that the water is inaccessible to other users or can no longer be used due to its low quality.

The InoCottonGROW project is a joint project of 26 cooperation partners from Germany, Pakistan and Turkey, with the aim to contribute innovative impulses to the sustainable use of water in the cotton textile supply chain.

The aim is not only to analyze the current state with various methods such as remote sensing, model approaches and company audits, but also to show in five demonstration projects where improvements along the value chain can be technically, economically and institutionally implemented: from cotton irrigation to environmentally friendly dyes and water-saving textile machines to textile wastewater treatment and pollutant analysis. The water footprint will be further developed as a control instrument to help local decision-makers manage scarce water resources and provide consumers with criteria for making conscious purchase decisions.

In contrast to existing water footprint studies, which use global averages, the InoCottonGROW project develops a detailed water inventory database to model region-specific cause-and-effect relationships. This makes it possible to determine the effects of water consumption on human health, ecosystems and water resources as well as the efficiency of water conservation measures at the level of individual fields.

The specific goals of the Chair of Sustainable Engineering are:

§ To develop the water footprint into a regionally specific control instrument for national decision-makers, textile producers, textile trade and consumers

§ To check the methodology for practicability in regional case studies in Pakistan and Turkey

§ To develop an internet-based water footprint tool for the implementation of the project results in the cotton textile industry

§ To create the scientific basis for a water footprint label

Project website:

Brief project introduction:


Universities and non-university research: Forschungsinstitut für Wasser- und Abfallwirtschaft an der RWTH Aachen e.V. (FIW), Hochschule Niederrhein, Forschungsinstitut für Textil und Bekleidung (HN-FTB), IWW Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wasserforschung gGmbH (IWW-MH), Universität Würzburg, Lehrstuhl für Fernerkundung (UW), Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF), RWTH Aachen, Institut für Wasserbau und Wasserwirtschaft (RWTH-IWW), Hochschule Ruhr West (HRW)

Industry and water treatment partners: Thies GmbH & Co. KG (THIES), A3 Water Solutions GmbH (A3), LAR Process Analysers AG (LAR), SEBA Hydrometrie GmbH & Co. KG (SEBA), Lippeverband (LV), CHT R. Beitlich GmbH (CHT)

Pakistani cooperation partners: Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA), All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), Style Textile, Sapphire Fibres Limited, Kohinoor Mills Limited, INTERLOOP Limited, Cleaner Production Institute (CPI), University of Agriculture (UAF), National Textile University (NTU), GIZ Pakistan

Turkish cooperation partners: İstanbul Üniversitesi Merkez Kampüsü

Duration 2017 – 2020


Dr.-Ing. Markus Berger (Project lead)
Room Z 202
Phone +49 (0) 30 314-25084
Fax +49 (0) 30 314-21720
E-mail: markus.berger(at)

M.Sc. Natalia Finogenova
Room Z 202
Phone +49 (0)30 314-28455
Fax +49 (0) 30 314-21720
E-mail: natalia.finogenova(at)