The field of industrial environmental management has evolved rapidly in recent years. Environmental management has shifted its traditional focus from the development of technology to treat and dispose of industrial wastes and effluents to the redesign of industrial processes in order to minimize the initial production of waste. Countries currently in the process of industrializing have a unique opportunity to develop their emerging industries in concert with the modern trend of environmental management. This article examines an environmental management programme created by the Environmental Law Institute in Washington which emphasizes designing environmental management systems which can help companies eliminate waste at source rather than rely on capital-intensive technology to treat waste at the end of the manufacturing process. The programme has been specifically tailored to industry in Mexico. Consequently, the article examines not only those factors influencing environmental management in industrializing countries generally, but also considers the unique factors which could influence the way in which environmental management systems are created and implemented in Mexico.