What is the difference between ISO 9001 and ISO 14001


In quality and environmental management, ISO Standards play a pivotal role in making sure organisations adhere to internationally accepted benchmarks. Two fundamental Standards in this space are ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. According to the ISO 2022 Survey, ISO 9001: 2015 was voted the world’s most popular Standard, with 43,765 certificates in the UK alone, followed by ISO 14001: 2015.

While both place a strong emphasis on upholding rigorous standards, they are designed to address different aspects of an organisation’s operations. In this blog, we’ll explain the difference between ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, including their similarities and requirements, so you can make an informed decision if you’re a business considering certification.


What is ISO 9001 – quality management systems?

First published in 1987, ISO 9001 is a globally recognised Standard that focuses on quality management systems (QMS). It provides a framework to help organisations enhance customer satisfaction and continually improve their processes, including provisions of goods and/or services. Essentially, ISO 9001 sets the groundwork for an effective quality management system.

What are the ISO 9001 requirements?

Whether you are a large or small business, the ISO 9001 Standard outlines various requirements that organisations must meet to achieve certification. These include:

  • A strong customer focus
  • Leadership commitment
  • Employee engagement
  • A process approach
  • Evidence-based decision-making
  • Continual improvement
  • Relationship management

Each of the seven ISO 9001 quality management principles outlined here serves a distinct purpose, bringing specific benefits to your organisation. For a more in-depth understanding, explore the ISO 9001 principles page.


What is ISO 14001 – environmental management systems?

ISO 14001, on the other hand, is centred around environmental management systems (EMS). It aims to help organisations establish and implement practices to minimise their environmental impact, improve resource efficiency and corporate credibility, cut waste management costs, and ensure compliance with environmental legislation. Overall, ISO 14001 is crucial for businesses seeking to integrate sustainability into their operations.

What are the ISO 14001 requirements?

The ISO 14001 Standard is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle and requires organisations to do the following:

  • Plan (P) – Environmental Policy: In the planning phase, organisations establish an environmental policy. This involves identifying environmental aspects and impacts, legal and other requirements, and setting objectives and targets to address these issues.
  • Do (D) – Implementation and Operation: This phase involves implementing the environmental management system (EMS) and its processes. It includes defining roles, responsibilities, and authorities, providing training, and establishing communication and documentation systems to support environmental objectives.
  • Check (C) – Monitoring and Measurement: The checking phase focuses on monitoring and measuring performance against environmental objectives and legal requirements. This encompasses regular environmental evaluations, compliance assessments, and conducting internal audits to ensure the EMS is effective.
  • Act (A) – Continuous Improvement: Based on the results of monitoring and measurements, businesses take corrective and preventive actions to continually improve their environmental performance. This includes reviewing the effectiveness of the EMS, making necessary adjustments, and identifying opportunities for enhancement.

Ultimately, the ISO 14001 Standard nurtures a proactive approach to environmental responsibility.


Similarities Between ISO 9001 and ISO 14001

Both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 are ISO management system standards (MSS) and share common ground in their commitment to continual improvement within organisations. They encourage businesses to adopt a systematic approach, engage employees, and focus on customer satisfaction. Additionally, both Standards follow the same High-Level Structure (HLS) which provides consistency across all various ISO management systems.

Here are the ten clauses within the HLS that underscore the key similarities between ISO 9001 and ISO 14001:

  1. Scope (Clause 4): Defines the boundaries of application within an organisation.
  2. Normative References (Clause 2): Guides with additional relevant documents and standards.
  3. Terms and Definitions (Clause 3): Establishes common language and understanding.
  4. Context of the Organisation (Clause 4): Analyses internal and external factors impacting objectives.
  5. Leadership (Clause 5): Highlights leadership’s vital role in aligning systems with strategic goals.
  6. Planning (Clause 6): Requires proactive identification of risks and opportunities.
  7. Support (Clause 7): Emphasises the need for resources, competence, awareness, and communication.
  8. Operation (Clause 8): Focuses on planning and control for consistent outcomes.
  9. Performance Evaluation (Clause 9): Mandates monitoring and analysis for system effectiveness.
  10. Improvement (Clause 10): Concludes with a commitment to continuous enhancement.


What is the difference between ISO 9001 and ISO 14001?

The primary distinction lies in their core objectives. ISO 9001 is centred on ensuring quality in products and services, meeting customer satisfaction requirements and accentuating efficient processes. In contrast, ISO 14001 is tailored to manage environmental impact, promoting sustainability and responsible resource use.

Many businesses opt to adopt both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 Standards together to strike a harmonious balance between rigorous quality management and proactive environmental responsibility. This integrated management system approach not only demonstrates a commitment to delivering high-quality products and services but also showcases a dedication to sustainable practices.


Is it a legal requirement to be ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified?

No, it is not a legal requirement for businesses to obtain ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 certification. However, some industries or clients may prefer or require suppliers to be certified as a part of their contractual agreements. It can also help better comply with legal regulations. Certification can enhance credibility, and competitiveness, and demonstrate a commitment to meeting certain standards, but it is not mandated by law in most jurisdictions.


Gain certification to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 today!

ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 are vital tools for organisations striving for excellence in quality management and environmental responsibility..

Take your business to new heights by achieving ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications with Citation ISO Certification! Our team is here to help guide you through the certification process seamlessly, making sure your business meets international Standards.

With our integrated management systems, you can manage multiple ISOs, including ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, from one accessible place, with all the tools you need to ensure ISO compliance for greater efficiency, coordination and consistency.

Request a quote today, or call 0330 127 5121 for more information about our ISO services.

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About the author

  • Name:

    Serena Cooper

  • Company:

    Citation ISO Certification

  • Bio:

    Serena has worked for Citation ISO Certification since 2022, writing creative and informative content on ISO certification and consultation to help businesses reach their potential.


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