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If you think fast food is a cheap option, think again!

A Maccas run or cheeky Nandos may seem harmless, but the cost of convenience might add up to more than you think.

With millions of fast-food meals bought each day, ecologist Associate Professor Andy Le Brocque has asked ‘can a burger ban save the planet?’

“Food accounts for almost half of Australia’s ecological footprint – that includes production, packaging, storing, transport and cooking as well as consumption and waste,” he said.

“About 40 per cent of that impact relates to discretionary foods – non-essential, energy dense and nutrient poor.

“All those burgers and chips add up when you consider what is necessary to get it to your front door – and I don’t just mean your UberEats driver.”

Associate Professor Le Brocque is an expert in biodiversity and sustainability based at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

He presented his research at the Diversity in Agriculture session of the Pint of Science Festival in Toowoomba last night (May 22).

The international event invited researchers to talk about their work with an audience curious about the world, sharing an insight into research happening right here on the Darling Downs.

Associate Professor Le Brocque acknowledged a ban on fast food may be an impossible ask, but highlighted the massive impact the food industry had on the environment.

“The livestock sector alone contributes to about 15 per cent of global total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, with almost half of this coming from cattle burping,” Associate Professor Le Brocque said.

“One hamburger weighing about 220g produces between 3.4 and 4.8 kg of greenhouse gas emissions when taking into account a full life-cycle analysis.”

He said everyone could take positive action to lower the environmental impacts of food waste.

“Australians discard about 20 per cent of the all the food they buy, with fast-food waste accounting for 7 per cent of Australia’s total waste.

“Globally, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, food waste is responsible for 8 per cent of GHG emissions.”

To learn more about environmental science and sustainability at USQ, visit here.

hot chips on table