Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic are dumped into waterways and make their way into the ocean. Some of that waste will contribute to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a giant floating island made entirely of plastic and already bigger than the entire country of France.
While recycling programs are set up around the world to process discarded plastics, ongoing use of single-use plastic products ensures a constant backlog. What's more, the industrial facilities that repurpose recycled plastics create environmentally-unfriendly air pollution; it's partly due to smog concerns that China (once the world's leading plastics recycler) has banned the import of any new plastics to the country, leaving mounds of single-use plastics never to be repurposed.
Single-use plastics include everyday items like grocery bags, soda bottles, and disposable drinking straws. Because of their environmental impact, governments around the world have begun cracking down on their sale and use. So far, more than 112 countries, regions, and cities across the world have agreed to curb the sale of certain single-use plastic items — and that number is only expected to grow.
Here are 14 countries that have taken the leap to ban single-use plastic items. (They may not be the ones you would expect.)