This research is focused on a survey conducted among Spanish and Italian companies in order to define the environmental management evolution within firms. Through this survey, a number of maturity stages were defined and validated, and the identification of the relevant factors for each of the maturity stages was made. Survey results show that companies start with environmental management issues due to legislation requirements. Afterwards, firms go through a training phase, continuing with the systematization stage, then look for economic benefits through ecological improvements (ECO2 stage) and finish with the eco-innovation and leading green company stages. The survey has shown that the maturity stages have application in all types of industrial sector. These are useful for those firms that want to make progress in environmental matters, as it helps them to identify at which maturity stage they are and what are the factors that they need to take into account to move forward. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.