Plastic bags have become an environmental curse—Burundi is the latest country to crack down on their use

Burundi's president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has issued a decree banning the use of plastic bags in the small central African country within the next 18 months.

"The manufacture, import, storage, sale and use of all bags and other plastic packaging is prohibited," said the presidential order signed by Nkurunziza on Monday and seen by AFP Tuesday.

"A grace period of 18 months is granted, before the entry into force of this decree, to allow for the disposal of current stocks and orders already placed," the decree read.

The decree includes some exemptions that may be authorised for "biodegradable , bags and plastic materials used in medical services, and in industrial and pharmaceutical packaging".

When the law comes into force Burundi will join a growing list of African countries that have introduced total plastic bag bans to fight pollution, including Morocco, Rwanda and Kenya.