Christopher McElwain

Christopher McElwain

Postgraduate Research Student
Bachelor of Science (UNSW), Bachelor of Laws (UNSW), Master of Laws (Osgoode Hall, York University)

PhD Candidate & Teaching Fellow

Chris's research looks into issues of sustainability and regulatory theory, focusing on waste prevention, resource recovery and saving food from becoming food waste. His approach is supported by more than 20 years’ experience in designing and using environmental regulatory systems. He was a lawyer for the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for more than 10 years and helped design NSW's main pollution prevention and waste control laws in the late 1990s. He was subsequently a senior manager in the EPA's waste and resource recovery team for more than 10 years. Throughout that time, he managed more than 200 investigations and prosecutions, including many major pollution and waste prosecutions.

Areas of research

Circular Economies & Sustainability, Waste and Resource Recovery, Food Waste, Regulatory Theory, Design and Enforcement


Cameron Holley, Rosemary Rayfuse

Publications and presentations


  • “NSW Criminal Appeal Court corrects misconstrued approach to waste laws”, Australian Environment Review (2019) 34(8) 172
  • “Regulating to halve Australia’s food waste”, Australian Environment Review (2018) 33(4) 102-107

Recent presentations

  • Invited speaker to conduct a training workshop titled 'Solid Waste Prosecutions: Procedures from Beginning to End in Australia' at the International Seminar on Judicial Protection of Biodiversity to more than 200 Chinese prosecutors and government officials in Kunming, China, November 2019
  • Presented 'Saving Our Food' as the UNSW Faculty of Law representative with UNSW delegation to the 10th Annual GRIHA Summit – Fostering Partnerships for Sustainable Habitat in New Delhi, India, December 2018


Journal articles