The New York City Council overwhelmingly passed a trio of environmental bills, after the measures received near unanimous favor in a series of committee votes on Thursday.

The first bill would create an office for marine debris disposal and vessel surrendering to address the problem of microplastics and abandoned boats in the city’s waterways. It was followed by a bill to amend the city’s green building standards.

The third measure is a resolution to call on Gov. Kathy Hochul to update the 1982 New York State Returnable Container Act, also known as the Bottle Bill, which requires a refundable deposit on eligible drink containers. The City Council wants Hochul to raise the deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents and include a broader variety of drinks — to help increase the legislation’s effectiveness toward reducing litter.

The Committee on Environmental Protection, Resiliency and Water voted unanimously in favor of Intro 0210-2022, which would allow the city to coordinate removal of marine debris from waterways and shores as well as create a plan to recycle, reuse or dispose of it. The proposed law also calls for creating a system to track and monitor vessels to prevent them from being abandoned.

“This would be a tremendous step towards improving the waterways that are all around New York City so that we can all enjoy them for generations to come,” said Republican Councilmember Joann Ariola, who sponsored the bill. Ariola represents the 32nd District, which includes Queens beach communities like the Rockaways and Breezy Point.

Ariola says the city’s waterways are littered with derelict vessels that leak oil and chemicals into the water. The bill resolves the issue by creating a process and designated location to surrender boats — and recycle materials when possible. The new office would also develop recommendations for enforcement against boat owners who discard their vessels improperly.

“From Pelham Bay to Jamaica Bay, New York City's waterways are littered with abandoned vessels and marine debris that are not only unsightly, but they are detrimental to the health of our waterways,” Ariola said before the vote started.

The Committee on Housing and Buildings passed a “technical cleanup” bill for the city’s green building standards, Intro 0876-2023. This measure was sponsored by Councilmember Pierina Sanchez, the committee chair, at the request of Mayor Eric Adams. It passed with only one no vote by Republican Councilmember David Carr, who represents Staten Island’s 50th District. When it came to a full Council vote, only four councilmembers voted no.

The legislation updates Local Law 86 of 2005, which requires some buildings, owned or funded by the city, to be built to specific green design and performance standards laid out in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. Among the additions to the existing law are the inclusion of recent energy standards and the creation of a more efficient process for administration and reporting requirements.

In a meeting that lasted about a minute, the last of the environmental bills — on supporting a tweak to the New York State Returnable Container Act — was passed by the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management with zero no votes.

Along with increasing bottle refunds from 5 cents to 10 cents, the measure would include more types of beverage containers, including non-carbonated drinks like juice, wine and liquors. The law’s expansion is meant to incentivize and increase recycling rates and divert bottles, especially plastic, from ending up in landfills or in the environment.

According to the City Council, the 40-year-old law has helped New York state reduce its roadside bottle litter by 70%. But states like Michigan that have a 10-cent bottle deposit have a redemption rate that is much higher — 89% in 2019.

Now that these bills have passed the City Council, it is up to the mayor to sign them into law within 30 days or take no action. If the law is vetoed, it will be sent back to the Council, which can choose to overrule with a two-thirds majority.