Kenya has banned the use, manufacture and import of all plastic shopping bags.
The rule, which will come into force in six months, is already in place in a number of other African nations, including Rwanda and Morocco.
Approximately 100 million plastic bags are handed out each year by Kenyan supermarkets alone.
Plastic waste has long been blamed for a range of environmental issues in the country, such as killing wildlife, damaging agricultural land, polluting tourist sites and providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying malaria and dengue fever.
The plastic bags also contribute to the eight million tonnes of plastic entering the world’s oceans every year.
Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment, said: “Kenya is taking decisive action to remove an ugly stain on its outstanding natural beauty.
“Plastic waste also causes immeasurable damage to fragile ecosystems – both on land and at sea – and this decision is a major breakthrough in our global effort to turn the tide on plastic.”
England slashed plastic bag use with a 5p charge – it resulted in six billion fewer bags being taken by shoppers after 12 months.
None of the six largest global soft drinks brands have plans to cut the amount of single-use plastic bottles they use.