Xochimilco, a tourist trap in southern Mexico City, consumes a huge amount of PET-packaged snacks and drinks.
With its outrageously colorful, wood pontoons called trajineras in Spanish bougainvillea and weeping willows, the district boasts some of the last vestiges of Aztec ingenuity: half a dozen miles of narrow waterways.
Millions of tourists, including rock star Mick Jagger, have visited the area since the ancient form of trajinera transportation was revived in the 1940s.
Now, a small Mexico City recycling company, Recicla 2.0, has proved to the owners of Xochimilco's 1,300 or so craft that there's no need for their boats to be fashioned from wood.
PET bottles of all sizes do nicely.
Over two days, and with the help of half a dozen students from Mexico's National Autonomous University, Recicla built a trajinera deck from 700 soft drink bottles and 20 plastic crates, held together with wire, lots of duct tape, glue and a couple of PVC pipes.
The team then attached the 14-foot-long construction to a dozen 5-gallon PET water bottles, or garrafones, to give it additional buoyancy before launching it at one of nine jetties in Xochimilco. And it floated!
The idea is to publicize the need to recycle all sorts of materials, but especially PET, said Recicla 2.0 Managing Director David Barrios PiÃ±a.
The punt [pontoon] is an example of what can be built easily with a relatively small amount of plastic, PiÃ±a said.
The city has given the company permission to promote recycling across the capital by allowing the 167-pound boat, named Limpia-Inventa-Recicla, or Clean-Invent-Recycle, to be floated on all the capital's stretches of water.
Founded in 2002, Recicla 2.0 has a staff of 10 at its office in Mexico City and has a PET and polyethylene recycling plant near Cuernavaca, where it employs five.
We're happy to help the planet, Barrios said.
Making trajineras from plastic is a good idea, but they'll need to be more robust, said Fausto Miranda, who owns 10 punts. The canals are very narrow and the punts are constantly hitting the bank.