ABSTRACT Purpose: To develop a systematization of the main barriers to and facilitators of implementing environmental management in small and medium-sized enterprises found in the literature, so as to associate these contingent factors with the specificities of management of enterprises of this size. Originality/gap/relevance/implications: The article proposes that the factors influencing the adoption of environmental practices should be investigated from the viewpoint of the characteristics that differentiate the smaller enterprises from large organizations. Key methodological aspects: The method used for this study and reflection was the bibliographic research and the article is a theoretical essay on the topic of environmental management in small and medium sized-enterprises. Summary of key results: The results show that, on one hand, most of the specificities of smaller enterprises are related to the drawbacks of environmental management and, on the other hand, that there are few factors which facilitate the development of environmental practices in these enterprises. Key considerations/conclusions: The results showed the internal factors of SMEs linked to the management, structure, resources, organizational capabilities, among others, as the most critical for the implementation and maintenance of environmental management and, therefore, those who deserve more attention from policy makers and managers of small and medium-sized enterprises. Furthermore, the factors identified as facilitators, although scarce, show that smaller enterprises have specificities that can become potential in the environmental field.