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Archive for April, 2019

Ikea plans mushroom-based packaging as eco-friendly replacement for polystyrene

An example of mushroom packaging Photo: Evocative/The Telegraph. London Ikea’s new veggie meatballsIkea recently introduced vegetarian meatballs as part of its efforts to go green Photo: Ikea/The Telegraph London
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Ikea plans to use packaging made with mushrooms as an eco-friendly replacement for polystyrene, the Swedish retailer giant has revealed.

The flat-pack furniture retailer is looking at using the biodegradable “fungi packaging” as part of its efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling, according to Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea in the UK.

“We are looking for innovative alternatives to materials, such as replacing our polystyrene packaging with mycelium – fungi packaging,” she said.

Mycelium is the part of a fungus that grows in a mass of branched fibres, attaching to the soil or whatever it is growing on – in effect, mushroom roots.

US firm Ecovative developed the product, which it calls Mushroom Packaging, by letting the mycelium grow around clean agricultural waste, such as corn stalks or husks.

Over the space of a few days the fungus fibres bind the waste together, forming a solid shape, which is then dried to stop it growing any further.

Ms Yarrow said Ikea was looking at introducing mycelium packaging because “a lot of products come in polystyrene, traditionally, which can’t be – or is very difficult to – recycle”.

While polystyrene takes thousands of years to decompose, mycelium packaging can be disposed of simply by throwing it in the garden where it will biodegrade naturally within a few weeks.

Speaking at an Aldersgate Group sustainability event in London this week, Ms Yarrow added: “The great thing about mycelium is you can grow it into a mould that then fits exactly. You can create bespoke packaging.”

An Ikea spokesman confirmed it was looking at working with Ecovative, adding: “We always look for new and innovative processes and sustainable materials that can contribute to our commitment.

“Mycelium is one of the materials IKEA is looking into, but it is currently not used in production.”

Ecovative, whose founders invented the mushroom-based material in 2006, currently manufactures its packaging in New York. Customers include computer giant Dell, which uses it to cushion large computer servers.

Ikea’s green drive has already seen it launch vegetarian meatballs as a more eco-friendly alternative to the Swedish meatballs served in its cafes, because of concerns about the greenhouse gas emissions from beef and pork.

A spokesman for the retailer said: “IKEA wants to have a positive impact on people and planet, which includes taking a lead in turning waste into resources, developing reverse material flows for waste materials and ensuring key parts of our range are easily recycled.

“IKEA has committed to take a lead in reducing its use of fossil –based materials while increasing its use of renewable and recycled materials.” How the Mushroom Packaging is made:Agricultural waste such as corn husks is cleaned.Mycelium is added, and the mixture is left for a few days.Mycelium grows fibres as it reaches out to digest the agricultural waste.Mixture is broken up into loose particles.Particles are put into shaped mould for a few days. Mycelium grows and forms a solid shape.Solid shape is removed and dried to stop growth and prevent production of mushrooms or spores.

Source: Ecovative

The Telegraph, London

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Binge-eating burger competitions: meat the contenders

Riley Murphy AKA Chompamatic and Cal Stubbs AKA HulkSmashFood at Burgled in Carrum Downs They are pros at eating competitions. Photo: Penny Stephens Not on the menu – 11 patties, pulled pork, cheese croquet, bacon, extra cheese layered, onions and pickles in a burger tower – Dandenong Pavilion Photo: supplied
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Despite not being prepared to smash a burger today, Cal won, eating this burger in 5 min 47 sec. Photo: Penny Stephens

Eleven meat patties, pulled pork, a cheese croquet, bacon, layers of extra cheese, onions and pickles in a “burger tower monstrosity of deliciousness” – welcome to the eating games.

While others toil away on the cricket field or at fun runs on weekends, three Melbourne men are battling it out at the table – chomping through more food than some people eat in a week.

Cal Stubbs (@hulksmashfood), Riley Murphy (@chompamatic), and Issac Martin (@issac_eatsalot) spend weekends carving up Melbourne burger joints as  @the_chew_crew.

These real-life Homer Simpsons met at a bratwurst eating competition and quickly became chow buddies – “hitting up burger places that do crazy big burgers”.

On Tuesday, Mr Stubbs and Mr Murphy, visited the Burgled burger venue in Carrum.

With no preparation they each ploughed through a burger that included eight beef patties, 16 slices of cheese, 24 slices of bacon and six fried onion rings – these special burgers are four times the size of the biggest burger on the menu.

Mr Stubbs, 38, said they eat healthily during the week, then visit up to eight venues over the weekend, often providing burger reviews on social media.

“In two days we’ll each get though five kilos of meat a day, it’s pretty crazy,” Mr Stubbs said.

He expects the next competition to be at Burgled burgers in April with an attempt at a new Australian patty record in one burger –  22 meat patties, each 150 grams.

The monster eating bug hit Mr Stubbs when he saw a competition advertised at Hofbrauhaus Melbourne – a 1.5 kilogram pork schnitzel, half a kilo of chips and a stein of beer which entrants had to eat in 45 minutes.

“I managed to do it in 39 minutes and I found out only about 13 people in the country had managed to do it out of thousands,” he said.

“Six months later I went back … I think I did it in 12 minutes,” he said.

The three travel interstate and overseas entering eating competitions.

Mr Stubbs will head to Tasmania next week to enter a chicken-wing eating competition.

“I think the record is 111 chicken wings, you just keep eating them until you are full. So I’ll go and break that,” he said.

Another member of the chew crew, Riley Murphy, said he is attracted to the wow factor – the disbelief in people’s eyes.

He said venues often set them a challenge and on a recent visit to the Dandenong Pavilion staff asked “would you be interested in heading big today … we can never say no”, so they munched through an 11-pattie burger (don’t ask for it, it’s not on the menu).

“I really like the element that people say it can’t be done. I am only a small guy myself, and the fact that we can do things, it’s almost superhuman in a funny sense,” Mr Murphy said.

Mr Stubbs said the group prepare by drinking three lites of water quickly about six hours before a competition.

“I started by sculling a litre of water and have that sit in your stomach and stretch and then you build up … now I am at 3.2 litres … you don’t want to do any more than 3.5 litres because after that you can drown your organs … it can get dangerous,” he said.

He said the water stretches the stomach.

They also have a big meal 24 hours before a competition and then don’t eat again before the event.

Yes, there are health warnings about this level of eating.

VicHealth dietician Sonya Stanley said “regular binge eating and consuming excess calories from foods that are high in saturated fat, salt and added sugars, increases the risks of becoming overweight or obese and developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes”.

“As part of balanced eating, it’s ok to enjoy a treat occasionally and in small amounts but overeating and consuming large portions of unhealthy foods is not recommended,” she said.

The health issues are not lost on the group and the three exercise regularly.

“We have check-ups every three months, we go and get our blood checked by the doctors … if anything is off in that three months then we will rein it back in,” Mr Stubbs said.

“When you are doing that amount of food and doing that with water it can get dangerous so you have to take it seriously,” he said.

Mr Stubbs, said he probably has a year or two left competing – “it does take it out of you”.

Research released by the University of New South Wales last month indicated binge eating on weekends could be just as bad for the gut as eating badly all the time.

The researchers found intermittent exposure to junk food three days a week was sufficient to extensively shift the gut microbiota towards the pattern seen in obese rats consuming the diet continuously.

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The perfect storm for a progressive alternative

Newcastle has drawn the short straw when it comes to federal politics. Both Labor and the Coalition, for their own distinct reasons, have effectively abandoned any interest in presenting positive campaigns for the future in this electorate. This has amounted to wilful neglect of the real issues in our region, and a recurrent failure to deliver any meaningful benefits to our community.
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Everyone knows the ALP takes Newcastle for granted. The Newcastle electorate is summarised in the Sussex St spreadsheets with one word: “Safe”. This ALP campaign will be no different to the last. We can expect no election time sweeteners, no new initiatives, no regional vision or courageous leadership coming from Labor. At best, we may once again see a dusting off of those embarrassing plans for an unbuildable convention centre and ‘iconic skybridge’ that resurface each election. Newcastle will miss out again, as any big ALP commitments will undoubtedly be saved for more marginal seats.

LOST CAUSE: Both Labor and the Coalition have abandoned any interest in presenting positive campaigns for the future in this electorate. Picture: Marina Neil

Meanwhile, Newcastle is marked on the Coalition spreadsheets with a different word: “Unwinnable”. They know that donation scandals have cost the trust of those voters who made the difficult switch to Liberal in recent elections out of sheer frustration with the idleness of the ALP.The Liberal Party knows just how hard it will be to win that trust, and those voters, back.

Newcastle needs alternative political leadership now more than ever. Our region has been hit first and worst by the global decline of the coal price. Both of the old parties have been idle bystanders as the coal and gas companies have abandoned the region, leaving behind a legacy of youth joblessness, disrupted communities, bankrupted small businesses and enormous irreparable voids in the landscape.

We now find ourselves in a downturn without a transition strategy or even so much as a jobsplan, and this is an appalling failure of political leadership.

The end of the fossil fuel and pollution economy era was as predictable as it was inevitable. The Greens have campaigned for over a decade about the need for a planned transition away from fossil fuels, especially in regions like ours with a history of reliance on carbon intensive industries.

The Greens are the progressive alternativeto position our region to take advantage of the shift to a clean energy future.

The transition from a pollution economy to a clean energy economy means opening new industries, innovative business models and new jobs. Our clean energy package will renew investment in our region’s world-class manufacturing and energy industries, revitalise local business and cut pollution. To get there, the Greens will enhance our capacity for innovation and training through increased funding for our research institutions, including the CSIRO, Newcastle University and Hunter TAFE. We have a jobs plan that focuses on the real work needed to retrofit our existing infrastructure, reskills our workforce for more secure, meaningful employment, and supports workers as they move across industries.

I am deeply committed to the sustainability, vitality and prosperity of this region. I believe we can transition to a 21st century economy here, and that means more resources to invest in the welfare of our communities and environment, and guarantees an economically resilient future for our city and its future generations.

John Mackenzie is contesting the federal seat of Newcastleas the Greens candidate

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Jessica Peris reported Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s alleged assault to police after Sydney Roosters denied her payout, court hears

Nova Peris was with her daughter Jessica in court for the hearing. Photo: Peter Rae Shaun Kenny-Dowall is accused of assaulting his former girlfriend Jessica Peris. Photo: Peter Rae
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Jessica Peris asked the Sydney Roosters for money prior to reporting the assault allegations to police, a court has heard. Photo: Peter Rae

Shaun Kenny-Dowall put ex-partner in headlock, court hears’Oh, I bashed her’: Kenny-Dowall’s joke to mother

The former girlfriend of Sydney Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall went to police to report assault allegations after the NRL club wouldn’t give her any money following the break-up, a court has heard.

Jessica Peris, daughter of Olympian turned Northern Territory senator Nova Peris, gave evidence in the Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday about 11 alleged incidents of violence over a nine-month period of their relationship in 2014 and 2015.

The NRL star has pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges, include headbutting his girlfriend, pushing her, pulling her hair, putting her in a headlock, destroying a mobile phone, grabbing her arm so tightly it left a bruise, kicking her out of bed and sending offensive text messages.

Mr Kenny-Dowall’s barrister, Ian Temby, QC, tendered an explosive letter on Thursday sent from Ms Peris to Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan on June 30, 2015, days after the couple had an allegedly violent fight and broke up.

In the letter, Ms Peris told Mr Canavan about the “sensitive situation”, adding that it was her second abusive relationship after a partner in Darwin was convicted of assaulting her.

She rejected an earlier offer from the Roosters to provide her with shelter and a car for one month after the break up.

Instead, she asked Mr Canavan to provide her with six months of accommodation, six months use of a car and one month’s income.

“I’m undecided as to whether or not to report this to police,” she said in the letter, Mr Temby told the court. “I’d prefer this not to become public.”

She told Mr Canavan she was bankrupt. The court heard she was not working at the time and had large debts she was struggling to meet, including repayments on her car that had been re-possessed.

Her proposal was rejected by the club.

“It wasn’t until you found out that there would be no material support forthcoming that you went to police,” Mr Temby asked.

“In a sense sir, yes,” she said.

However, Ms Peris denied that the rejection was the reason she went to police, saying she was still considering reporting Mr Kenny-Dowall when she sent the letter.

Mr Temby quizzed Ms Peris about the couple’s “vigorous” sex life, including graphic texts in which Mr Kenny-Dowall said “I will bend you over and pull you hair”.

Ms Peris responded by text, saying “pull my hair while I moan”.

She denied Mr Temby’s assertion that the only hair pulling in the relationship happened during sex.

The texts also show that she referred to her boyfriend as “f–king c–t”, “f–kwit”, “mutt dog pig dog” and “d–kwit”.

“These messages… show, don’t they, that in the message interchanges between Shaun Kenny-Dowall and yourself, you gave as good as you got?” Mr Temby asked.

“Under the circumstances, I responded in the same language he used,” Ms Peris replied.

She had earlier told the court that she spoke to club liaison officer Cathy King in the days after the break-up, to ask for help in recovering some of her belongings from the couple’s Maroubra apartment.

Ms King arranged for her to go to the apartment when Mr Kenny-Dowall wasn’t there.

About three weeks later, Ms Peris went to police.

On the first day of the three-day hearing on Wednesday, Ms Peris, a professional track athlete training for the Olympics, gave evidence about a string of alleged incidents.

During a fight over previous partners, she said Mr Kenny-Dowall smashed her phone, pinned her up against a wall, grabbed her tightly by the arm and punched a framed photo on the wall beside her head.

Mr Kenny-Dowall then joked to his mother that he had “bashed” his girlfriend when she turned up at a family lunch with a visible bruise on her arm days later, she said.

He had admitted to punching the picture frame, causing his hand to bleed, but has denied all allegations of violence towards her.

The hearing continues.

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NSW Parliament apologises to the 78ers who began the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

The scene outside the Central Court of Petty Sessions in Sydney where gay and lesbians demonstrated in 1978. Photo: Fairfax Media Members of the 78ers in the NSW parliament hear the apology on Thursday.
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The Member for Coogee, Bruce Notley Smith, delivers the official apology. Photo: Peter Rae

A brightly sequinned hat, tie-dye t-shirts and rainbow flags in the packed viewing gallery did nothing to distract from the gravity of the historical moment in NSW Parliament on Thursday morning when, after nearly 38 years, the 78ers received a formal apology from the state over the discrimination they suffered at Sydney’s first Mardi Gras in 1978.

“For the mistreatment you suffered that evening, I apologise and I say sorry,” said Bruce Notley Smith, the member for Coogee, as he moved the motion of apology in the NSW Legislative Assembly.

“As a member of the parliament which dragged its feet in the decriminalisation of homosexual acts, I apologise and say sorry. And as a proud gay man and member of this parliament offering this apology, I say thank you.

“The actions you took on June 24, 1978, have been vindicated.”

The bipartisan apology, unanimously passed in both houses of parliament, drew emotional and at times highly personal reflections from MPs, including the Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton and the Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian. Mr Notley-Smith recounted the pain of growing up as a gay teenager in Sydney at the time of the melee.

That evening, more than 500 activists took to Taylor Square in Darlinghurst in support and celebration of New York’s Stonewall movement and to call for an end to criminalisation of homosexual acts and discrimination against homosexuals. The peaceful movement ended in violence, mass arrests and public shaming at the hands of the police, government and media.

About 70 of the original protesters and their supporters rose for a standing ovation as Mr Notley-Smith ended his highly charged speech, commending the tireless activism of the 78ers and acknowledging that the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras had as its foundation the violence and struggle of that night.

The Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong, called for the NSW police to add their weight to the apology, before reading personal stories of violence and terror that June evening. Her opinion was greeted by loud applause by 78ers, though Mr Notley-Smith later said that he believes that the cross-party apology speaks for the police as a government agency.

With two openly gay members sitting across the chamber from one another, Alex Greenwich, independent member for Sydney, proclaimed the NSW parliament the “gayest parliament in Australia.”

The cheers that followed were welcome levity in a moment that was grounded, for many of those present, in darkness and pain.

Speaking after the debate, Ron Austin, a 78er and originator of Mardi Gras, said that the apology was “delightful”. Flanked by Steve Warren, Julie McCrossin and a raft of other 78ers, he recalled a jubilant street party turning into a tragedy as he remembered the day. “We were hunted along all the way down by the police,” he says of the route along Oxford Street.

“We were sick and tired of being treated as second class citizens, it was intolerable, inexcusable.

“This whole discrimination thing was just absurd to the nth degree.”

The “unqualified and unreserved” bipartisan apology has not come a moment too soon for many of those who were traumatised by the events and the subsequent public outing of many of those involved by The Sydney Morning Herald.

In some instances, protesters lost their jobs and homes, and for some individuals, the trauma ended only in suicide. On Wednesday, The Sydney Morning Herald added its voice to the recognition of wrongdoing and injustice.

Apologising to the 78ers, Darren Goodsir, editor-in-chief, said: “In 1978, The Sydney Morning Herald reported the names, addresses and professions of people arrested during public protests to advance gay rights. The paper at the time was following the custom and practice of the day.”

“We acknowledge and apologise for the hurt and suffering that reporting caused. It would never happen today.”

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