Environmental characteristics of products are increasingly investigated. Much research focuses on environmental implications of design decisions and on methods to determine and influence products' environmental impacts. Less attention is paid to the organizational consequences of such insights. This paper aims to contribute to this discussion by describing and analyzing organizational aspects of product-oriented environmental management (POEM) from an individual firm's perspective. Important motives for firms to engage in POEM are addressing stakeholder interests and obtaining a competitive advantage. Specific capabilities are required to organize POEM. In the process of building such capabilities, managerial decision-makers play an important role. Two case studies from the chemical industry provide interesting viewpoints on the organization of POEM: creating sufficient flexibility, a broad involvement across functions, and a managerial ability to identify and build the required capabilities are proposed as important factors in the process of organizing POEM. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.