High expectations exist about the possible contribution of SMMEs to economic growth and development in South Africa. It is recognized, however, that SMMEs are seriously constrained in many regards, amongst others, legal and institutional requirements, whereas the authorities do not have adequate capacity for enforcement. Non-compliance cannot therefore be effectively sanctioned. The same trend is observed regarding compliance with environmental legislation and the implementation of environmental management systems. It is suggested here, based on international evidence, that prudent environmental management should not be viewed only as a cost item or legal matter, but actually as a matter of good business. This necessitates a proper and well-implemented development support and communication system between science, industry and government.