This study undertakes a description and analysis of the complex relationship that has developed between the civil society and environmental social movements that were formed in defense of a healthy environment demanding the closure of the most important fertilizer and chemical plant and the largest polluter in the city of Sfax. The study explains how the environmental struggle faltered in an authoritarian political climate, and how it developed after the 2010-2011 revolution in the context of a democratic transition. The study reached three conclusions. Firstly, collective awareness of the importance of a healthy environment is not spontaneous. It requires an active civil society to trigger it. Secondly, civil society organizations, such as unions, can deal with some general issues from a purely professional perspective that may differ from the general public interest. Third, reformulating the descriptive and analytical relationship between the concepts of civil society and social movements is useful in studying such issues.