80,000 Plastic Bottles Transformed into Swings and Benches

On September 28th, in the vicinity of the village of Toksovo, the official opening of a new and unique hiking route, the Kurgolovskaya ethnopath, took place. It was created on the initiative and with the support of the Viola company.
Now, residents of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region, located 25 km from the city, can relax on benches and swings made from recycled plastic, enjoy the nature of the Karelian Isthmus, and learn about the history and culture of the peoples who have long inhabited the Leningrad region: Karelians, Vods, Izhors, Veps, and Finns.

The route was developed by the Viola company in collaboration with the Directorate of the Leningrad Region State Natural Reserves and became a part of the Trail 47 Project initiated by the region's governor. The infrastructure for the trail was designed and manufactured by EcoTechnologies.

The opening ceremony of the trail was attended by representatives of the Leningrad Region government, the Committee on Natural Resources of the Leningrad Region, the Directorate of Specially Protected Natural Areas of the Leningrad Region, the management of EcoTechnologies, as well as key figures from the Viola company, the project's initiator. As part of the event, the honorary guests symbolically cut the red ribbon to open the new trail and explored the infrastructure by walking along the route.
‘Eco-trails that are comfortable for people and created with a careful attitude toward nature represent an important contribution not only to the present but also to the future of the Leningrad region. It is pleasing to note that our region is one of the leaders in the number of ecological routes, and all of them are highly popular among the population. The success of this direction became possible thanks to the close cooperation between the government and business representatives who joined forces to care for the environment and the region's residents’, - said Oleg Malashchenko, Deputy Chairman of the Leningrad Region Government and Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries, commenting on the launch.
The route is located on the shores of a lake within the territory of the Toksovsky natural park in the Vsevolozhsk district of the Leningrad region. A leisurely walk along the trail will take about one and a half hours and will allow you to explore various landscapes, from swamps to rocky hills. This picturesque area has the status of a specially protected natural area, so Viola has treated it with the utmost care. In particular, the route is integrated into the existing network of pathways that have been here since the middle of the last century when the natural park's territory belonged to the Toksovo experimental forest management.
The project involved a significant cleanup and preparation of the area for visitors. Over 100 cubic meters of trash were removed, a parking area for up to 30 cars was leveled and equipped, ditches were leveled and pits were filled, and dead trees were cleared. All of these tasks were carried out with a concern for the environment and with the goal of making the walk along the route enjoyable and comfortable for visitors. Following this, benches, signs, informational boards, interactive objects, and art installations were placed along the route. The production of all this infrastructure used 2 tons of plastic packaging from Viola's processed cheese, which is approximately 80,000 small containers with lids.
The Kurgolovskaya ethnopath, along with other nearby routes such as Toksovsky Heights, Raspberry Hill, and Spruce Hills, is an excellent example of a balance between preserving nature and making it accessible to the region's residents and guests. It's worth emphasizing that the entire project was created without harming the unique natural complexes that require special attention and care, as shared by Fyodor Stulov, Acting Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources of the Leningrad Region and head of the Trail 47 priority project. The eco-route that opens today runs along the shores of Lake Kurgolovskoye and has a total length of about 2.5 kilometers. This route is suitable for both leisurely walks and hiking of varying difficulty levels. Thanks to the efforts of Viola, the Directorate of the Leningrad Region State Natural Reserves, the committee, and volunteers from the All-Russian Society for Nature Conservation, a modern and comfortable infrastructure with art installations has been created. Guests of the trail will embark on a pleasant countryside walk and set out in search of the wild violet Viola, which grows in the vicinity of Toksovo. They will also become more acquainted with the flora and fauna of this area, its history, and reflect on the importance of preserving nature and mindful consumption.
The Kurgolovskaya trail is truly special. It is the forty-first route of the Trail 47 project, but it is the first eco-ethnographic route in the Leningrad region whose infrastructure is made from recycled materials. For this purpose, EcoTechnologies, in collaboration with the TotalCycle plant (part of the EcoPartners Group), processed packaging from processed cheese that remained unused after the company's rebranding a year earlier. The plastic PP05 obtained from this recycling process was incorporated into a polymer-sand composite, from which benches, informational stands, signs, a botanist's post, an entrance area, and unique swings were manufactured. In total, 34 objects have been added along the route.
‘The Viola initiative represents a responsible approach to the recycling of packaging that has become obsolete due to rebranding. The material used to create the infrastructure is called a polymer-sand composite. Besides the fact that the products contain recycled plastic, there is no dust or toxic fumes generated during the production and use of these items. The products have a service life of over 50 years, and the material itself can be recycled in the future,’ - explained Konstantin Rzaev, Managing Partner of EcoPartners. – ‘This project encompasses several aspects of sustainable development; it is not only about ecology and waste management but also about developing infrastructure, innovation, and educating the public, who can visually see that recycling exists. In particular, to enhance the project's environmental education aspect, we also provided information about recycling on information boards.
Another unique feature of the new trail is its ethnographic component. Information boards prepared with the involvement of local historians and historians are placed along the entire route, telling facts about the history and culture of the peoples who have lived in the Karelian Isthmus and the Leningrad region as a whole for centuries: Karelians, Vods, Izhors, Veps, and Finns. This theme is also supported by art installations, such as a photo zone in the form of a fence made from skis, the frame of which is also made from recycled plastic. The photo zone is symbolic since skis have always been an essential means of transportation for the Finno-Ugric peoples who inhabited this region, and now it is a popular sport for which hundreds of athletes come to Lake Kurgolovskoye annually.
The creator and initiator of the trail, Viola, is confident that the project will continue to thrive and develop.
‘The blue-eyed blonde Viola from the processed cheese packaging has been an embodiment of consistently high quality and excellent taste of our products since 1956. And now she has become the face of the eco-trail! This is symbolic because environmental care has always been one of Viola's priority areas of development. The Kurgolovskaya ethnopath is a large and very important project for us, and work on it will not stop after its opening,’ - noted Natalia Dobrynina, Senior Vice President of Viola LLC, in charge of marketing, contract manufacturing, product development, and quality. – ‘We will continue to oversee and develop the route. We would like to express our deep gratitude to our partners, without whose support and involvement, the implementation of this complex and unique project would not have been possible: the Directorate of Specially Protected Natural Areas of the Leningrad Region, the Committee on Natural Resources of the Leningrad Region, and the regional government.
Starting from September 28, Kurgolovskaya ethnopath is open for everyone to visit.
Coordinates of the eco-ethnographic route Kurgolovskaya: 60.188448, 30.547983

Public transportation directions:

From Grazhdanskiy Prospekt metro station: Bus 205 "Yellow" (to the VIFK Educational Center stop)
From Devyatkino metro station: Bus 619 (to the VIFK Educational Center stop)
From the Oselki railway station: Buses 619 and 622 (to the VIFK Educational Center stop)
From the Toksovo railway station: Buses 619 and 205 "Yellow" (to the VIFK Educational Center stop)

Then, on foot - about 900 meters. From the VIFK Educational Center stop in Toksovo, walk about 400 meters in the direction of Novoye Toksovo along Sovetov Street. At the first major intersection, turn left toward the Oselki railway station, continue along the road for another 500 meters. The entrance to the trail is marked with a sign.