December 1, 2022

A look at the Shelfy, a smart device that aims to reduce food waste in your fridge

Since the lack of innovation around reducing food waste in the home has long been a pet peeve of mine, I couldn’t help but get a little excited when I heard about the Shelfy .

According to the gadget’s Kickstarter page, it’s a “smart device that will extend the life of your food” by purifying the air in the fridge. The Shelfy does this by drawing air from the refrigerator through a ceramic filter and capturing bacteria. From there, “the pollutants are destroyed and not retained mechanically” thanks to a process called photocatalysis.

Vitesy, the company behind the Shelfy, retained the services of a testing laboratory called CSI SpA – FPM (Food Packaging Materials Laboratory) to test the product and write a report attesting to its capabilities. The report concluded by saying that “the evidence from the present study shows encouraging results” and that “the organoleptic evaluations show that the module is effective in slowing the aging of the products tested, delaying the onset of wilting, softening, stains and rot.”

This all sounds encouraging, and the report and testing agency seem legit, but I caution anyone who thinks dropping the Shelfy in their fridge will make them a food waste warrior. The Shelfy will not help extend the life of food in an airtight storage container, or things like meat, cheese, or other food items that are inside its packaging. It also forces you to store things like green vegetables openly in the fridge, which is different from how many people bring these foods home from the store.

In other words, to reap the benefits of Shelfy, product owners must orient their food storage behavior around the product itself. They also have to recognize that the Shelfy won’t help them save everything. On the other hand, the product might make sense for those who want to create a system of different approaches and technologies to reduce food waste. And the gadget could be the perfect solution for those who specifically struggle with fruits and vegetables spoiling in the produce drawer.

Finally, it looks like the Shelfy already seems to have some competition in the form of other freestanding refrigerator air purifiers available online and air purifiers built into high-end refrigerators such as Sub-Zero. While none of these (to my knowledge) use a similar ceramic filter system, these competing solutions reduce bacteria and gases like ethylene from the air that accelerate food aging.

If you’re interested in the Shelfy, the product’s Kickstarter campaign is still running for a few weeks. The price of early bird registration is approx. $94/93 (only a few left this morning), and the regular campaign price is $119/117.

It is always worth expressing a caveat for any hardware crowdfunding campaign. However, potential backers can take comfort in the fact that the company behind the product has already shipped three different hardware products via Kickstarter.